How to build your own spy kit

Worried about secret cameras or roommates stealing your food? Go full James Bond.

diy spy gear
Become a DIY spyTravis Rathbone

You don't need Q cranking out Bond-ready watch-lasers to dabble in some small-scale espionage. Whether you're out to nab the family snack ­burglar who's been swiping your Cheez-Its, or want to ensure your Airbnb host doesn't turn you into an unwilling internet video star, these spy tools will help you dig up the dirt you ­desire. But please: Check federal, state, and local laws before going all 007 with this gear.

1. Get superhearing

Point the 8-inch dish on the Scientific Explorer Bionic Ear toward what you want to hear, and it'll gather and amplify sound waves by funneling them into a central microphone. The ray-gun-style gadget can pick up audio from sources up to 300 feet away, whether it's an ­opposing dodgeball team crafting their strategy or a songbird singing across the park.

2. Spot peeping toms

While most house- and ­apartment-share proprietors are upstanding citizens, some major creepsters do plant small, hidden cameras in their rented abodes. The KJB Camera Finder can sweep the space for spies. The beeper-size gizmo shines focused LEDs into the room, causing lenses to appear as bright glints when spied through the red-tinted eyepiece.

3. Track your stuff

If you're worried about someone grabbing your duffel bag from your gym locker, consider a BrickHouse Security Spark Nano 5.0 GPS Tracker. This battery-powered device will emit a signal for up to two weeks on a single charge. Monitor it via Google Maps, or watch for a text if it moves outside a designated area—just remember, trailing people covertly is a no-no.

4. See in the dark

The smartphone-powered Flir One camera captures what's normally invisible to the naked eye: infrared light emitted by heat. In short, it lets you see like a rattlesnake—or the Predator. Use it to catch thieving roommates swiping your food under cover of darkness. Then, once you're done spying, check your windows for drafty spots that need insulating.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2018 Intelligence issue of Popular Science.